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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.0
Visuals
8.5
Audio
7.5
Gameplay
9.0
Features
8.5
Replay
6.5
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Game Boy
PUBLISHER:
Konami
DEVELOPER:
Mobile 21
GENRE: Shooter
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
November 07, 2001
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
IN THE SERIES
Gradius ReBirth

Gradius III

Gradius Collection

Gradius V

Gradius III and IV

More in this Series
 Written by Matt Swider  on January 07, 2002

Review: I am old school, here me ROAR!


Gradius Galaxies has touched down on several systems over the past couple of years and continues to spread after a recent PlayStation 2 release. Now, Game Boy Advance soars into space with Konami's classic shooter, and though it boats a handful of flaws, the overall game remains as solid as its predecessors.

While the latest Gradius titles engaged in a simple rehashing or collection of its original masterpieces, Gradius Galaxies delivers brand new levels along with the same old-school shooting extravaganza. The game's eight stages, which break down into a total of 47 levels, will test the skills of shooting fans by pitting them as pilot of the Vic Viper spaceship. While maneuvering the ship, players must blast literally thousands of enemy crafts in order to clear a path and proceed along with the screen. The alien multitude will fire shots from all directions as the ship travels, and those with extreme determination and a bit of luck will learn the pattern of success in the game.

After shooting certain enemies, a power-up icon will remain from the destroyed craft. This is a chance for players to collect powerful enhancements ranging from speed boosts and advanced firepower to shields and option vessels. In total, there are 14 weapon upgrades to work with and at the beginning of the game players must complete the task of selecting one of four types of power ups. Upon collecting the icons, players can choose to activate the highlighted upgrade shown at the bottom of the screen or wait for another until they are satisfied with the indicated power up. Depending on what the current level calls for, the right blend of upgrades might make all the difference in surviving to the end.

Although some will find Gradius Galaxies visually unappealing and rather dry compared to today's standards, the classic look from each Gradius adventure that came before is captured in its entirety. Aside from the seemingly simple graphics, there are a lot of nuances that put the department well over the top. The screen is littered with a handful of the more than 40 enemies at once, each displaying their own facet of firepower. The boss models also make great use of the hardware capabilities of Game Boy Advance with their complex designs. Still, like any other Game Boy Advance game, utilizing a light accessory will prove priceless as things may still fade from your view, especially when the tiny laser shots reach the end of the screen.

Despite any graphical infractions that may not sit well with you, the level design is more brilliant than most games you'll see this year. Best of all, no slowdown can be found within the game, which is something that plagued past versions of Gradius over the years.

Going along with the classic look and feel, Gradius Galaxies presents a retro soundtrack as well. Though in keeping with the 80's style soundtrack, there is little flair to be found within. However, the tunes included aren't overly annoying after extended periods of playing, which is ultimately a plus. The tone of the gameplay is even set by the music by helping to build the tension in the game. A few digitized voice clips were used alongside the various explosions resulting from the continuous pulses of firepower. While not overly spectacular, it is indeed some grade A audio for any shooter when you think about it.

Besides the overall fact that Konami brought a classic shooter back to a current system, another issue I must commend the company on is the fact that they used the Battery save method. Many Game Boy Advance games require gamers to memorize a string of scrambled letters in order to return to a certain point. Gradius Galaxies allows players to proceed through the game with infinite continues. Along with saving the game's progress, another option offered is Hint Mode which lets players watch a simulated Vic Viper blast through a portion of any level to show them how it is done. Also, not only is the game savable, but so are the ranking scores, which helps to provide a competitive edge in trying to match the top gun.

Bottom Line
Many will find this type of game too tedious for their taste and turn away. That's too bad because all it takes to enjoy Gradius Galaxies is a little determination, luck, and a lot of dying and retrying. Those who do have the stamina for this kind of game will no doubt find the title fun and addicting as it is one of best shooters to be released in a good while.


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